During our 7–8 hours of sleep at night, our body is in complete repair mode — restoring energy, building up defenses, and resetting its systems for optimal functioning during the day. As the body’s largest organ, the skin does most of its heavy-duty rejuvenation overnight as well.
“At rest, the skin increases cell turnover, combating any irritation from daytime environmental stressors and reconstructing collagen and elastin for an overall more radiant appearance upon waking,” Dr. Joel Schlessinger, board certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor, said in an interview with The Cheat Sheet.
While daytime skin care treatments and moisturizers primarily protect the skin from environmental stressors, using sun protection and antioxidants, nighttime formulas tend to penetrate more deeply and work more effectively, using higher concentrations of anti-aging ingredients as well as the most intense moisturizing agents.
That’s why applying the right nighttime formulas to your skin and using the proper products is key to making the rest of your beauty regimen seamless, easy, and faster. Here are the 10 products you should be using nightly for an easier “get-ready” routine in the morning.
The active ingredients in face cleansers might have little effect on the skin once they’re rinsed off, but using face wash before bed is incredibly beneficial for your complexion. “Our skin takes advantage of this time that we’re asleep to naturally rejuvenate and heal itself,” explains Schlessinger. “If you’re not removing your makeup before you go to bed, the impurities left on your skin disrupt this process, leading to bacterial buildup, breakouts, and premature signs of aging.”
But not all cleansers are gentle enough to remove waterproof eye makeup, so it’s important to remove your makeup prior to cleansing. His suggestion? Klorane Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover with Soothing Cornflower ($24, Sephora), which soothes inflammation and minimizes redness with cornflower.
Silk pillowcases have numerous anti-aging benefits for your skin. “Because cotton is designed to absorb moisture, cotton pillowcases can actually pull the moisture out of your skin,” Schlessinger explains. “Silk pillowcases, on the other hand, help prevent this moisture loss while reducing the amount of friction between your pillow and your face.” Silk also helps minimize sleep wrinkles, which are the result of your face being repeatedly compressed against a pillow each night, which stretches, pushes, and pulls the skin.
Your hair benefits from sleeping on silk, as well. “Less friction means less breakage, frizz, and damage while you sleep,” explains Schlessinger. “As an added benefit, silk also helps keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.”
Although a regular silk pillowcase will do the trick, there are also special linens that are designed to help boost anti-aging results. He recommends the iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase with Copper Oxide ($60, Sephora). “It’s embedded with tiny copper particles that help reduce fine lines and wrinkles while you sleep.”
Plus, studies show copper helps boost collagen and elastin growth, minimizing the appearance of wrinkles. It also encourages the body’s natural hyaluronic acid production, which has a plumping effect on the skin.
An eye mask
“Aside from blocking out light and other distractions while you sleep, eye masks also help prevent friction around the eyes,” explains Schlessinger. “This area is often the first to show signs of aging in the form of fine lines and wrinkles.”
In addition to protecting the delicate eye area while you sleep, these masks also help seal in eye creams and other treatments for even better anti-aging benefits. In addition to pillowcases, iluminage also offers a Skin Rejuvenating Eye Mask ($35, Sephora) with the same anti-aging benefits. “The copper technology is clinically proven to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles for smoother, younger-looking skin in as little as four weeks,” Schlessinger says.
Many people often wonder if they really need a night cream or if a regular moisturizer will do the trick. The truth is that night creams are often richer than daytime creams and they usually contain ingredients that work better at night. “As we sleep, our skin takes advantage of this time to naturally rejuvenate and heal itself,” says Schlessinger. “Night creams often contain more potent anti-aging ingredients that assist in this process, so you’ll wake up with softer, smoother skin in the morning.”
There are a variety of nighttime treatments to choose from, depending on your unique skin concerns. For those with general signs of aging, Schlessinger recommends Obagi Gentle Rejuvenation Advanced Night Repair ($87, LovelySkin). “Richer and more emollient than a day cream, this overnight moisturizer contains peptides and growth factors to help reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and uneven skin texture,” he says. “This nourishing night cream also soothes redness and irritation for healthier-looking skin.”
For those with hyperpigmentation, he recommends Lumixyl Trifecting Night Cream ($76, LovelySkin), which contains a trio of clinically proven ingredients to address signs of aging, acne, and uneven skin tone all at once. “Lumixyl’s patented peptide, decapeptide-12, helps gently reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation,” he says. “This nighttime treatment also contains time-released, encapsulated retinol to stimulate healthy cell turnover and a botanical complex to treat and prevent acne breakouts.”
Retinol, a form of vitamin A, is an extremely effective cell-communicating ingredient that’s recommended for use in just about any anti-aging routine. “Retinol essentially teaches aging skin cells how to behave like younger, healthier cells by encouraging them to turnover more rapidly,” explains Schlessinger. “This makes way for new cell growth and strengthens skin at the source of wrinkles.”
Retinol also helps prevent collagen breakdown and resurfaces skin for a more even look, he says. The overall result is a smoother, brighter, and more youthful appearance, making retinol perfect for addressing wrinkles, dark spots, sun damage, and more. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that helps protect skin from free radical damage.
Retinols should usually be reserved for nighttime use because they leave skin more sensitive to the sun. Additionally, retinols should always be paired with regular sunscreen use. “I like SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.5 ($74, LovelySkin) and SkinMedica Retinol Complex 1.0 ($88, LovelySkin) for their superior anti-aging benefits,” Schlessinger says. “In addition to retinol, these serums contain bisabolol to minimize inflammation and antioxidants to protect skin.”
Serums are one of the best products you can use on your skin due to the molecular weight of the product. “Think about your skin like a potted plant, if you were to take a handful of moisturizer and spread it all over the soil, some of the cream may sink a bit deeper into the pot, but more likely than not it will never reach the bottom,” Colby Correnti, a Boston-based makeup artist said in an interview with The Cheat Sheet. “A serum on the other hand, will penetrate the soil, and fall to the bottom, where it can reach the roots of the plant so that it can provide moisture and hydration needed for survival.”
This is exactly the way a serum works with the layers of your skin. One of Correnti’s favorite nighttime serums is Epionce Intense Defense Serum Anti-Aging + Repair ($136, Epionce).”It has vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, all of which work synergistically together to fight off free radicals and help to boost your collagen and elastin,” Correnti says.
Night cream for your eyes
Because the skin around your eye area is much thinner than the rest of your face, it’s one of the first to show signs of fatigue and aging. “Applying eye cream at night helps keep the delicate skin around the eyes looking healthy and youthful,” says Schlessinger.
After cleansing in the evening, use your ring finger to gently apply eye cream without tugging or pulling at the skin. Then head to bed. “Getting a good night’s sleep can also help prevent under-eye bags, which become more pronounced with fatigue,” he says.
One of Schlessinger’s favorite eye creams is LovelySkin Luxe Brightening Eye Cream ($72, LovelySkin). “It’s self-adaptive, optical technology diffuses light to give your skin a soft, youthful glow,” he says. “Horse chestnut extract minimizes the appearance of puffiness and dark circles, while Persian silk tree extract helps fight the signs of fatigue and hyaluronic acid plumps fine lines and wrinkles.”
Eyelash growth serums help promote longer, thicker, and fuller eyelashes. They’re often intended for nightly use because the eye area has a significant amount of movement during the day. “These products are made with clinically proven ingredients that prevent lashes from growing dry, brittle, and sparse over the years,” Schlessinger says.
When applying these serums at night, the active ingredients are able to remain on the lashes for several hours so you’ll see maximum results. LATISSE is currently the only prescription treatment for longer, fuller eyelashes.
“Originally formulated as a medication for glaucoma, this eyelash growth product is clinically proven to enhance the length, thickness and darkness of your natural lashes,” says Schlessinger. The medication is applied once a day, usually at night, to the upper eyelid just above the lash line.
There are also several non-prescription alternatives that can promote fuller lashes. One of Schlessinger’s favorite formulas to recommend is ALPHAEON Beauty Eyelash Serum ($110, LovelySkin). “Key ingredients like peptides, biotin, pumpkin seed extract and hyaluronic acid encourage healthy growth while nourishing and conditioning the lashes,” he says. “With daily use, this eyelash growth product can improve overall lash appearance in just eight weeks.”
Overnight hair serum
Just like your skin, your hair needs hydration, especially if you’re like most women who dry out their tresses with hair dryers, flat irons, curling irons, and frequent trips to the salon for highlights. But an occasional hair mask or serum can work wonders for your hair.
“Overnight hair serums are geared to hydrate and protect your locks throughout the night,” celebrity hair stylist Jenna Mast said in an interview with The Cheat Sheet. “It will also add moisture that you can layer on top of in the morning for quick and easy styling.”
Her go-to: Ouai Hair Oil ($28, Ouai). “It’s a straightforward, no-nonsense hair oil that gives you an instant noticeable difference moisture-wise,” she says.
The primary purpose of a body lotion is to seal moisture into the skin. “Applying body lotion at night can help encourage overall healthier, softer, and more vibrant skin, and also help smooth rough, scaly patches, and calluses on the feet and hands,” says Schlessinger.
If you have a specific concern you’d like to target, there’s a body lotion to help. Keratosis pilaris, body acne, loss of firmness, and dimpling can all be improved with the right treatment. And if your goal is to simply relax at night, you can also find an aromatic formula with soothing properties for the senses.
Schlessinger suggests restoring the skin’s natural moisture barrier with Epionce Renewal Enriched Body Lotion ($36, Epionce). “This nourishing lotion addresses signs of aging on the arms, legs, and body while deeply moisturizing with avocado oil, shea butter, and rosehip oil,” he says. “It’s perfect for rough knees, elbows, and heels.”
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on March 21, 2017.